Jessica Soroky Guest Post #22: The Pressure Only I Put on Myself

Fail = Learn.

I have been taught that lesson for as long as I can remember, and I never realized how hard it would be to apply the concept of allowing failure to become a lesson.

I have a huge fear that a failure will disappoint people, and that oftentimes stands in the way of my ability to learn.

The fear is so strong that even when I haven’t actually failed or messed up, I still hear most feedback as exactly that – “I am failing.”

When I interpret something as a failure, or believe that I am the cause of a mistake, my brain immediately jumps to defense.

I bounce all over The Responsibility Process™ model, going from Justify to Shame and back again in an attempt to convince the other person I’m not wrong.

The Responsibility ProcessThe kicker is that I was the one to add the idea of right and wrong to the conversation; I am in defense of something that only exists in me.

When I’m confronted with the observation that I am being defensive for no reason, I fall back down to Denial.

This fear is so strong that I oftentimes don’t even want to admit that I am being defensive in reaction to the feeling that I failed something.

As a result, the interactions I have with those closest to me often suffer. My heightened sensitivity and fear make it almost impossible to give me feedback, and it doesn’t allow me to learn something I may not know.

I’m a coach; I coach entire teams about feedback loops and the importance of it. Yet I have stopped allowing for my own feedback. I’ve stunted my growth convincing myself I was doing the opposite.

Here comes the justification…

I have been given amazing compliments about my accomplishments and journey at my age, and yet I’m convinced I have to hit that next accomplishment before anyone else to maintain the perception people have about me. No one is putting that pressure on me but me.

So I push harder, work longer hours, and when approached with any sort of feedback, my anxiety is so high that I can’t even process what I’m being told as anything other than what I am currently doing isn’t enough.

This isn’t a new behavior I have developed — this anxiety and belief system has always been there. As my skills in the The Leadership Gift™ Program continue to develop, I have learned how to become aware not only of what is going on inside of my head but how that mental state affects my behaviors and communications.

This cycle is perfectly logical in my head and therefore even more difficult to break.

A great man once said to me, “Okay, I’m justified and you’re justified, now what?”

It’s a strange feeling when someone says that to you. It stopped me in my tracks; it was like ripping off all of my protective armor, forcing me to face the problem or run. The point is, I will always be justified if I want to be.

I currently struggle with how to work through this problem, or how to face the fear that causes the problem.

In previous blog posts I have talked about the need to be enough for me first before I can be enough in any other situation. I realize when I turn to face this problem again that I have yet to accept myself as being enough. And until I do, and this cycle will continue until I’m ready to face it.

My intention this week is to stay aware that this is what is going on inside of me. Whenever I get that lump in my chest signaling that I feel like I’m failing, I want to take an extra moment to remind myself this belief is only created by me.

How often do you put pressure on yourself while convinced it’s the rest of the world putting it there?

Jessica Soroky, CSM
Only 21 years old, Jessica is already a Certified Scrum Master with two years of practice in agile delivery and team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of non-profit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.

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Posted in Leadership on 02/05/2014 07:38 am
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